University Police Chief Paul Denton said a man was living in an Ohio State building, and he also said there have been multiple unrelated criminal trespassing arrests in the past few months.
A 28-year-old man named Demarco Armstead wasn’t supposed to be in any OSU buildings after previous warnings, but he was arrested on campus on Oct. 4 for criminal trespassing after he was caught on camera entering Baker Systems Engineering.
Michael Zazon, the IT manager for the Department of Integrated Systems Engineering — located in Baker — said he was involved in setting up the camera. He decided to set up the hidden camera after students and faculty working in the suite of offices where Armstead was later found living said they would hear noises and see things rearranged.
“The camera I installed would record any motion detected and save to a secure server on campus that only a select few people on our staff could review,” he said in an email.
Zazon added that the camera only showed the man entering and exiting the room and didn’t show any activity in the office he was occupying. He decided to check the footage on a Sunday morning, Oct. 4 — when the building is typically locked — and found that the man had been recorded only 15 minutes before Zazon logged in to the system to check the camera.
“I called the campus police immediately from home, and they were either on site already or called additional units over,” he said. “I credit the dispatcher for getting on this so quickly, he seemed to know who to radio immediately and they scrambled staff to comb the area.”
Armstead was arrested in the basement of Dreese Laboratories on Oct. 4, according to a University Police report. Zazon said the man had been lurking around for “some time.”
A police officer went into the room where Armstead had been staying and found a glass with red wine residue, a white wine bottle (that the suspect said contained urine) and a coffee cup with liquid in it.
There was also a locker that opened with a key that Armstead had. The locker contained a “large quantity of clothing and personal items,” according to the report. Those items were removed.
Armstead had received criminal trespassing advisements from University Police in the past, and told police he knew he wasn’t supposed to be in any campus buildings when he was arrested.
There have been 50 charges of criminal trespassing on OSU’s campus since the beginning of the year, and more than half of those have involved arrests.
Armstead was taken to Franklin County Municipal Court and fined $125. He pled not guilty and is currently in jail waiting for a trial.
Denton said the previous contact with Armstead had come in 2011 and 2013. He said if Armstead continues to enter OSU buildings, he’ll continue to be placed under arrest.
He said there’s not much more University Police can do because the buildings on campus are accessible to the public.
“These are open spaces and people do that more frequently than we’d like,” Denton said. “I can’t say what his intents were. We’ve had a couple of these in recent weeks and some of these are more persistent than others. It’s how they’re typically handled with the criminal trespass charge.”
He added that it was an unusual take on the situation, what with a hidden camera being set up.
“People don’t go to that level that often, so that was interesting,” he said. He added that since it was a personal office space, the camera didn’t break any protocols.